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Loyola education professor wins Fulbright to develop first clinical mental health counseling master’s program in Turkey

| By Nick Alexopulos
Bradley Erford Loyola University Maryland MEF University
Bradley Erford (center) with counseling students and faculty after teaching a class at MEF University in Istanbul, Turkey.

Bradley Erford, Ph.D., professor of school counseling in the education specialties department at Loyola University Maryland’s School of Education, has been awarded a Fulbright Senior Specialist Program grant to develop a master’s program in clinical mental health counseling at MEF University in Istanbul, Turkey.

The English-speaking graduate program will be Turkey’s first in the clinical mental health counseling discipline and the first graduate program of any kind at MEF, which opened in 2014. Over the course of a six-week stay in early 2017, Erford is leading a collaborative effort among MEF faculty and university leadership to create a curriculum and apply for approval from Turkey’s Ministry of National Education.

“Organizations in Turkey looking to hire counselors are very hungry for candidates with a graduate degree,” said Erford. “These students will have a tremendous advantage in the job market.”

Turkey currently has no licensure process or certification for mental health practitioners, but that doesn’t mean aspiring counselors will find success with only an undergraduate degree. Schools and other large institutions require graduate training, and clients accessing care through a private practice are far more likely to choose a counselor who has a professional degree.

MEF students are eager to enhance their career prospects through education. When Erford conducted a needs assessment, 100 percent of undergraduate counseling students surveyed indicated they intended to pursue a master’s degree in counseling.

“There’s a strong market demand for an English-speaking master’s,” said Erford. “MEF undergraduate counseling students were delighted when they learned that was the purpose of my Fulbright trip. They said, ‘Sign us up.’”

The program Erford is designing at MEF is almost identical to similar clinical mental health counseling master’s programs in the United States: two years, 60 credits, thesis and non-thesis tracks, a 100-hour practicum, and a minimum 600-hour site-based internship. Erford is also preparing MEF to seek accreditation through the U.S.-based Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), the world’s most respected accreditor of master’s and doctoral degree programs in counseling and counseling specialties. MEF would be the first university outside of North America with a CACREP-accredited academic program.

“It’s wonderful to help them push their programs in a positive direction to adhere to international standards, and to support their faculty and help them grow as an educational community as well,” said Erford.

MEF plans to admit its first students to the new program in fall 2018.

A prolific scholar, Erford has authored or edited more than 30 books. His research focuses on development and technical analysis of psycho-educational tests and outcomes research, resulting in the publication of more than 70 refereed journal articles, more than 100 book chapters, and 10 published tests. He is a former president of the American Counseling Association, the Association for Assessment in Counseling and Education, and the Maryland Association for Counseling and Development, and he has held dozens of other leadership positions for these and other professional organizations. He has received numerous awards for his scholarship and service to the counseling profession over the last two decades.

Erford has consulted with a number of U.S. universities that were considering accreditation or going through reaccreditation with CACREP, and he oversaw preparation of CACREP self-study reports as director of Loyola’s CACREP-accredited school counseling program. His accreditation work with MEF is his first of this kind internationally.

The Fulbright Specialist Program sends U.S. faculty and professionals to serve as expert consultants on curriculum, faculty development, institutional planning, and related subjects at academic institutions abroad.

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